Rally wrap up
December 31 Racers embark from Lisbon in Stage One
January 1 Still in Spain, Stage Two to Malaga
January 2 Riders cross the Mediteranean to Morocco
January 3 Chris Blais and Andy Girder hang tough for Red Bull KTM
January 4 Bivouac in Tan Tan
January 5 Into the desert – heads up for the mine fields
January 6 Grider out – Team Red Bull KTM looks to Blais
January 7 Sand, sand, sand – lost, found, lost, found
January 8 Rest day – time for a little overdue laundry catchup
January 10 Segment cancelled; Dakar looms closer
January 11 The terrain changes
January 12 Five thousand miles behind them, the riders near the finish
January 13 Blais finishes 4th overall
January 14 An abreviated Dakar pauses in a final remembrance
January 8, 2006
THE REST DAY – NOUAKCHOTT, MAURITANIA
Tomorrow: Stage 9 - Monday 9 January 2006 - Nouakchott to Kiffa Total distance: 874 km - transfer 30 km – Special 599 km – Liason 245 km
Still a long way to go! 4,205 kms are still to be covered in this 2006 Euromilhoes Dakar and already it’s been a rally full of drama and upsets. - from www.dakar.com
A welcome day away from rocks and sand was heaven sent for Chris Blais (#9) and the entire Red Bull US Dakar team support staff. Blais’ heroic 2nd place finish in what the Dakar front runner have considered the toughest of thus far, is a badge of honor for the 25-year old Californian but grueling days ahead keep team enthusiasm in check.
“Thanks to our friend Jordi Arcarons, we were able to get a house for the rest day which allowed us to escape the circus atmosphere back at the bivouac. We ate good meals, got cleaned up and rested comfortably. Don’t get me wrong, the food throughout the week has been fantastic and the Dakar organizers do a fantastic job for everyone involved with the rally. It’s just nice to be away from the noise and out of the blowing sand for a few hours.”
TAXI! - During his call, Barker also mentioned that in addition to the house, the team had been given the use of what he thinks could be the only Chevy Suburban in Nouakchott. “Maybe the only one in Mauritania. Never thought I’d see, let alone ride in, a Chevy over here!”
BLAIS STILL GOING STRONG
After a tough week and with half of the Dakar Rally to complete Blais is still in amazing shape, both physically and mentally. Team physician, Dr. Dr. Jonathan Edwards maintains a close watch on his riders, as well as others, and he is very pleased with the results of Blais’ condition.
At tonight’s briefing, rally officials have levied heavy time penalties on a few riders for violations that may have included exceeding the 160km per hour limit and missing stage 8 waypoints. Suffering the blow of a 1-hour penalty is Chile’s top rallyist, Carlos De Gavardo #4. De Gavardo now drops from 3rd to 5th overall. A devastating 2-hour whipping was issued to Australian Andy Caldecott #10, who drops from 6th place to 10th. It wasn’t fully divulged during the rider briefing just how exactly the penalties were determined. As expected, the affected team filed some protests.
SILVER LINING FOR BLAIS
Running smart and under the penalty radar, Chris Blais moved up two notches overall - he now occupies the 8th position.
Monday morning will come early and open the gate on another very difficult stage filled with more sand dunes, more rocks, a mountain crossing and technically demanding navigation. To make matters more interesting will be another inverted start for the motorcyclists.
BACK IN THE SADDLE AGAIN
The first bike will leave the line at about 6:30am but Blais won’t get his big KTM 660 Rallye rolling until almost everyone else is on their way. He expects his day to be filled with a broad network of errant tracks and miscues from the remaining 120+ bikes ahead of him. If Blais keeps his cool, and rides smart throughout his expected 12-hour shift, he will hopefully remain in the top 10.
BARKER ON ARCARONS
“Repsol KTM team boss Jordi Arcarons has become a staunch ally and friend to the Red Bull KTM US Dakar team. He personally goes through the roadbooks with us to point out the significant things for the riders, based on his own personal experience. We have developed a very strong bond with Jordi and the rest of the Repsol team. We have learned fast but we are still learning and it’s wonderful to have someone like Jordi in an event like this. His experience as a competitor and manager have really made things better for us.”
Barker also mentioned that the American team has reciprocated as much as possible and the Dr. Edwards has used his talents to support the Arcaron’s team as well.
DAKAR RALLY ON THE TUBE
OLN TV – In case you haven’t caught the broadcasts, yet, tune into OLN-TV for daily 30-minute Dakar Rally updates. Tour de France commentator, Kirsten Gum, who is so far doing an admirable job covering the entire event, hosts the show. Of course, we’re not seeing enough about the American riders but we’ll have to take what we get. Log on to www.olntv.com for local listings. Drop ‘em an e-mail while you’re there and tell them to SHOW MORE BLAIS!